740.00119 Control (Germany)/5–1649: Telegram

The Acing United States Political Adviser for Germany (Riddleberger) to the Secretary of State


740. Mytel 721, May 13, repeated Paris (for Jessup) 248, London 257, Moscow 76.1 OMGUS transport officials meeting with British and French today to review transport situation and agree report and recommendations for action. Crux of matter is that Soviets instituting direct operational control over transport movements which they did not have March 1, 1948.

Before blockade Western Allies dealt directly with Soviet Zone German rail authorities and worked out schedules and movements directly with them. Now Soviets impose schedules and conditions of movement and have liaison officers in Western Section rail yards for purpose. They have now placed Soviet Military guards in the yards.

Soviet refusal permit entry into their zone of Western Zone locomotive engineers and train crews, necessitating switch to Soviet Zone locomotives and crews at border also serves assure their direct control over movements. Although regular passenger train scheduling was promised for May 15, OMGUS states no improvement yet observable schedules offered appearing have been chosen for maximum inconvenience (although can well be unintentional and transitory) and delays still characterizing movements.

Department appreciates that Soviets justifying these measures on bases other than return to status quo March 1, 1948. (Chuikov’s letter mentioned mytel 702 May 12, repeated Paris 231, London 250, Moscow 75.2) Relative restriction to 16-train paths, for instance, they refer to actual practical needs as they unilaterally view them and cite estimate [Page 773] agreed quadripartitely in 1945 rather than tacit acceptance at least 20-train paths prevailing in 1948. Although OMGUS informants unable cite any specific agreements relative use Western Zone train crews in relation interjection Soviet liaison between Allied and German transport authorities in Berlin, present Soviet measures clearly constitute restriction on freedom movement not prevailing before blockade.

Foregoing concerns operational transport restrictions which must be considered together with restrictions on trade and movement goods to see full picture. Latest report is that no German freight has as yet moved West from Berlin by rail, although attempts being made to make tip train. Some scrap on non-German account stated have been permitted exit Soviet Zone by truck but truck carrying radio equipment from Western Sectors for Western German firms was turned back because lacking Soviet permit. Announced in Berlin press that such permits required for articles on restricted (Soviet) list and it appears Soviet will prevent as before export all articles they consider at all useful not covered specifically by trade agreement. Will be recalled that, although restrictions were quadripartitely approved before March 1, 1948, Soviets added unilaterally to their list after that date to effectively bar export most articles which would make up Berlin’s natural trade with West. Reported that East West barge traffic resumed with entry Soviet Zone yesterday of one British-licensed craft destined for Berlin.3

Sent Department 740; repeated London 266, Moscow 81, Paris for Jessup 263.

  1. Not printed; it reported on the railroad situation in Berlin and the presence of Soviet personnel in the British railroad yard office. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/5–1349)
  2. Not printed; Chuikov had referred to the Control Council agreement of September 10, 1945 that permitted sixteen train paths west to east. Riddleberger disputed this interpretation of the September 10 agreement, saying that sixteen train paths was only an estimate and that the average in early 1948 had reached twenty-one paths. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/5–1249)
  3. In telegram 750, May 18, from Berlin, not printed, Riddleberger reported the departure of the first freight train carrying goods from Berlin and indicated that the United States authorities in Berlin were maintaining that there was no necessity for SMA permits on such goods. OMGUS intended to load individual trucks and freight cars with goods of one particular type to determine what items the Soviets would refuse to pass through to the West. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/5–1849)